Texas prisoners no longer allowed to have a Facebook presence

In a clear violation of free speech rights, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has created a new rule that threatens disciplinary action against prisoners who maintain social media accounts through a third party. This goes into effect April 15, 2016. TDCJ has always restricted the speech of the men and women it holds behind bars (for example, forbidding communication between prisoners held in different facilities), but this is an unprecedented step toward restricting the speech of family and supporters on the outside. This rule is illegal and will likely be challenged. The ACLU and Texas Civil Rights Project are aware of the rule change, and if a public campaign is launched, we will post information about activism here.

Facebook and Twitter have been important tools in raising awareness about Rodney’s case. Until we receive more information from Rodney’s lawyers, the Facebook and Twitter accounts associated with this page will be temporarily suspended. Our social media sites were NOT initiated by Rodney Reed and are simply a place for the family and supporters to coordinate our campaign around his case. However we want to make sure that we are not in violation of a prison policy that could result in disciplinary action for Rodney. Check here for updates!

You can read about the rule here: https://www.texastribune.org/2016/04/14/criminal-justice-department-banning-inmates-social/ .

We agree with Rodney’s supporter quoted in the article: This policy is “complete bullshit.”

One year later: Rodney Reed, still not freed

March and rally in Bastrop, TX, will demand the Texas courts move forward in the Rodney Reed case

18 years meme

It’s been one year since the Texas courts issued a stay of execution to Rodney Reed, an innocent man on death row. In that year, the courts have done nothing to correct their injustices while Rodney continues to live in a cage that measures only 60 sq ft, confined alone for 23 hours a day. On the anniversary of last year’s victory, we will remind the small town of Bastrop and the state of Texas that we have not forgotten. Justice for Rodney Reed and Justice for Stacey Stites!

Join Rodney’s family, friends, supporters, and a film crew from A&E for a short march through Rodney’s hometown of Bastrop and a community potluck. We’ll have music, Texas brisket, and a message for the Court of Criminal Appeals: We Demand Justice: Free Rodney Reed!

There will be a carpool for those traveling from Austin to Bastrop. Sign up at https://goo.gl/KN5s4A to become a driver or secure a seat.

Contact lily (at) nodeathpenalty.org for more information.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/948852951860115/ 

JUSTICE JAM: Community BBQ to Free Rodney Reed

Rodney Reed and his supporters are still waiting on a ruling from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). It’s been five months since the CCA put the brakes on Rodney’s scheduled execution while it decides if it will hear the explosive new evidence brought forward by Rodney’s lawyers; it seems that the wheels of Texas justice turn very slowly.

But while the CCA stays silent, Rodney’s legal team and supporters continue our work to win his freedom. Join us in Rodney’s hometown of Bastrop for an afternoon of music and Texas BBQ in support of Rodney Reed. Featuring performances by: Kalu JamesLas Krudas Cubensi, an original song written for Rodney performed by Rodney’s cousins, and a DJ set by Rodney’s brother Richard Reed.

If you can’t make it to Bastrop but would like to support the event,  please make a donation online

justice jam flyer

Suggested donation $10 (or more!). Donations are on a sliding scale and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. To buy a ticket (or make a donation) online visit:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/justice-jam-a-community-bbq-for-rodney-reed-tickets-17502129340

Money raised will go to Rodney’s legal defense fund and support campaign materials. See you in the park!

JUSTICE JAM: COMMUNITY BBQ TO FREE RODNEY REED
Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 4:00PM. Bastrop, TX
Kerr Community Center, Bastrop, Texas
https://www.facebook.com/events/858037530956659/

Sandra Reed, Rodney's mother, raises a fist for a crowd of supporters outside the Texas Governor's Mansion, Feb. 21, 2015

Ball in the CCA’s Court: the struggle continues for Rodney Reed

A new piece from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty outlines the current status of the case of Rodney Reed and describes all the hard work by activists, lawyers, filmmakers, investigators and journalists that lead the recent stay of execution and the uncovering of new evidence.

Lily Hughes, national director of the CEDP, clarifies where Rodney’s case is in the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA):

Although Rodney has been given a stay of execution, the fight is far from over. The Court has agreed to look at Rodney’s new appeal, but there are no guarantees of a favorable ruling. One possibility is that the court could look at the evidence and opt to deny relief, as they have done in the past.

Another possibility is that the CCA could order a new trial. This wouldn’t be unwelcome to Rodney and his supporters. However, if the evidence of innocence is strong enough to warrant a new trial, then it would make better sense for the court to reverse the conviction altogether.

The best possible outcome from the CCA would be a reversal of Rodney’s conviction and for Rodney to be released from prison. In this event, the Bastrop County district attorney could still opt to take Rodney to trial again, in which case activists should demand that the DA drop Rodney’s indictment completely.

The article is a great comprehensive of the history of the campaign to demand justice for Rodney, a campaign that continues!

The various options before the Court make the ongoing activist campaign for Rodney paramount. Rodney’s family and supporters are prepared to carry on the fight. As Rodney’s brother Rodrick Reed said at a rally in February, “If we don’t stand up today, we’re going to lay down tomorrow for anything they’re going to make us lay down for. And I ain’t a laying down kind of guy. I’m a fighter, I come from a family of fighters!”

This site will be updated as soon as the Court issues a ruling.

A rally for justice outside the Texas State Capitol in February 2015

A rally for justice outside the Texas State Capitol in February 2015

Sandra and Rodrick Reed address a crowd outside the Texas Governors Mansion in February, 2015. Photo by Jaynna Sims

Sandra and Rodrick Reed address a crowd outside the Texas Governors Mansion in February, 2015. Photo by Jaynna Sims

Lethal-Injection_Split_jpg_800x1000_q100

Texas votes to keep execution drug manufacturers a (dirty) secret

The Texas Tribune reports that the Texas Senate has approved a bill that would hide the names of execution drug providers from the public. Senate Bill 1697 passed 23-8.

State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, told lawmakers her legislation was a “practical solution” to the harassment and threats faced by companies providing the state prison system with pentobarbital, the single drug used in Texas to execute inmates convicted of capital murder.

“Discussion in the public area has led to a chilling effect for companies who want to supply this compound to the state of Texas,” she said. “There are very few doses left of the drug that’s currently being administered.”

Hiding the names of unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies is a new development in Texas’ embarrassing history of capital punishment. Because these businesses have contracts with the state, their names were available to public until just two years ago. After European-based companies refused to sell their supplies of pentobarbital if its intended purpose was the murder of human beings, Texas turned to The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy for its lethal drugs in 2013. The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy claims that the public knowledge of their shady deal lead to “threats” against their business.

If companies can’t conduct their tax-funded business with the state in the public view, then they shouldn’t be in this shameful business at all. It’s telling that state lawmakers can band together to protect pharma manufacturers from the “chilling effect” of public outcry, but do nothing to secure justice for the wrongfully incarcerated. The Texas Legislature has again reaffirmed its commitment to executions, but abolitionists in Texas and across the world won’t stop until there’s justice for Rodney Reed and the other men and women on death row.

Ben Wolff, left, an attorney for Texas Defender Service, and Ana Hernandez, vice president for UT’s Amnesty International chapter, discuss the Rodney Reed case in a panel Monday night. Photo by Zoe Fu for the Daily Texan.

“My brother is still locked up, and the fight must continue until we bring him home…after that, we still must fight for justice.”

Rodrick Reed, brother of Rodney, spoke to a University of Texas at Austin students last night.

“A lot of people have relaxed, thinking he’s on his way home, but we still have to fight,” Rodrick said. “My brother is still locked up, and the fight must continue until we bring him home, and even after that, we still must fight for justice.”

“Without the public, my brother wouldn’t have stood a chance,” Rodrick said. “They would have probably executed him on March 5. [Rodney said to me,] ‘I’ve lost both my grandmothers in [jail.] Now I’ve lost my dad, and I’ve lost several uncles, and my family is going away, but I have not lost hope.’”

Rodrick was joined by Ben Wolff of the Texas Defender Service and Ana Hernandez of the UT chapter of Amnesty International. “Here’s the urgency about this: No one’s won,” Wolff said. “Rodney’s still on death row, and he’s still there unjustly and an innocent man. The first time the state of Texas seeks to execute someone, they have to give at least 90 days’ notice. The second time, … 30 days.”

Hernandez added “I think that stressing the indignity of his current situation and the fact that it is unjust for an innocent person to face those circumstances for over 18 years — I think that finding a way to convey that kind of urgency is important. There is no end date for your activism.”

Panel discussion April 27, 2015

The panel followed a die-in hosted a few days earlier in one of the University’s busy pedestrian areas. The die-in highlighted Rodney’s case but also the oppressive conditions of Texas death row. A 6 foot by 10 foot area was marked off on the ground, representing the size of a death row cell. Demonstrators lay down on the pavement for 10 minutes with signs about Rodney and the racist application of the death penalty.

UT die-in

UT die-in

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, University of Texas students stand inside a 6' x 10' area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

Die-in at University of Texas brings attention to Rodney Reed and the horror of solitary confinement on TX death row

Students at the University of Texas at Austin will hold a die-in on Thursday, April 23, to show their continued support of death row prisoner Rodney Reed. The students will table in the hour leading up to the die-in, which starts at 12:15 pm. The event will include a replica of the floor plan of cells on Texas death row to highlight the harsh conditions of death row, as profiled in this report by the ACLU. Texas has some of the most restrictive policies in the nation, with prisoners held in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, in tiny cells with one small window, no television, no air conditioning, and no contact visits. No prisoners should live in this way, especially not an innocent man like Rodney. Although grateful for his stay of execution, activists say Rodney shouldn’t spend one more day in his 6′ x 10′ cage.  More information about the students’ die-in is available on Facebook.

You can see inside the Polunsky Unit, home to Texas death row, courtesy of this blog post at Minutes Before Six. The pictures were obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request and annotated by a Texas death row prisoner.

A panel discussion on Rodney, featuring Rodney’s brother Rodrick Reed and UT Amnesty International Vice President Ana Hernandez, will take place at UT on Monday, April 27 at 7:00 pm. Details are available here.

The Campus Coordinating Committee to Free Rodney Reed has hosted many actions on UT campus over the past several months, including a flash mob, collecting Valentines for prisoners, and an all-night vigil. Email cpoirot@utexas.edu for more info.

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, supporters kneel inside a 6' x 10' area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, supporters kneel inside a 6′ x 10′ area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, a supporter kneels inside a 6' x 10' area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

A group of supporters gather outside the Court of Criminal Appeals in the Texas Capitol Complex to demand justice for Rodney

A group of supporters gather outside the Court of Criminal Appeals in the Texas Capitol Complex to demand justice for Rodney, March 28, 2015